KATHMANDU, October 10, 2012—Experts, practitioners and policy makers in the field of rural water supply and sanitation in South Asia are gathered here this week to share experiences and knowledge of best practices as well as challenges in implementing rural water supply and sanitation initiatives in the region. They are sharing their views and insights on critical issues like the long term sustainability of rural water supply schemes, increasing access to sanitation, challenges of declining water quality and quantity, monitoring and evaluation and public-private partnership in rural water supply & sanitation.
“The barriers to better opportunities as a result of lack of access to improved water supply and sanitation are huge, more so if you are poor, female and live in a rural community,” said Tahseen Sayed, the World Bank Country Manager for Nepal. “Reliable water and sanitation services contribute to broader poverty reduction goals, improved health and education outcomes, and significantly reduce the burden on rural women who spend hours collecting water,” she said.
South Asia represents a major challenge in terms of providing access to safe, sustainable water supply and sanitation. In the last few years, there have been many exciting developments in the rural areas which have contributed to improving performance and outcomes in service delivery. However, over 1 billion people in South Asia still lack access to improved sanitation and over 250 million people lack access to improved water supplies.
Chairing the Inaugural session of the conference today, Kishore Thapa, Secretary at the Ministry of Urban Development, stressed that the government has given top priority as per its national policy to ensuring drinking water supply to all. Delivering the keynote address, Janak Raj Shah, Honourable Member of the National Planning Commission, outlined the targets of the Government of Nepal to cover all the rural habitations with safe water supply & sanitation by early 2017, with deployment of simple and local technology. Caroline Mills of AusAID highlighted the role of the Australian government in helping developing nations achieve better service delivery of potable water and open free defecation with one overriding goal of saving lives.
The three day South Asia Regional Conference on Rural Water Supply and Sanitation is organized by the World Bank in partnership with AusAid. Around 80 high level officials from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as experts and practitioners from Brazil, Vietnam, Netherlands and the United States of America are participating in the conference.